Get in the Zone: Your Guide to Major Game Conventions

(We know, we know. It’s not advisable to go to one right now. But hey, at least it’s something to look forward to!) Gaming conventions offer a place to gather with others who appreciate video games and game development. Find out more about these conventions.  

Part of the fun in a game development career is being able to have a hand in creating games that people love to play. Gaming conventions provide a place for fans to gather and show their appreciation for their favorite games. Going to these conventions can help you connect with other gamers and find inspiration for your next gaming project.

Image Courtesy of Brian Hess from School of Game Development

History of Gaming Conventions

How long have gaming conventions been around? It’s been a long time coming. You might be surprised to learn that they’re not a recent phenomenon. In fact, these conventions have been happening in form or other since the 1960s. The very first one was the Consumer Electronics Show, which took place in Las Vegas in 1967. GenCon debuted the following year in Indianapolis and continues to be a popular convention to this day. Over the years, these conventions have allowed niche interest groups to develop, leading to a wide range of trends in gaming culture, from RPG games to college eSports programs.

What to Expect at Gaming Conventions

While specific activities and events vary, there are some general ones that take place at almost any convention. At these gaming conventions, you can meet with vendors to learn more about upcoming games, recently released games, or past games. You might also have the opportunity to play games or get a first look at games that aren’t even out yet.

Gaming conventions also offer several other events and activities, including a chance to browse merchant and artist booths to buy gaming-related artwork or merchandise. Additionally, you can learn a thing or two about video games and the gaming industry in booths and panels. When you’re at these conventions, you can get the most up to date information on games at panels featuring guest speakers and gaming industry professionals.

Different Types of Gaming Conventions

Gaming conventions come in different forms. While some conventions are strictly for video games or gaming product launches, others are part of more generic conventions, such as sci-fi conventions. They usually take place at universities or hotels for a few days where fans and vendors can interact with each other.

Regardless of their size and form, gaming conventions offer visitors a chance to learn more about countless companies and gaming schools. These events not only provide fans to interact with companies but also new opportunities to find out about new games and schools.

Here is a list of popular gaming conventions in the nation and around the world:

  • PAX West and PAX East: The Penny Arcade Expos, originally based off of a web comic about gamers, bring gamers to the east and west coasts to celebrate all kinds of gaming. These conventions include video and computer games, tabletop games, and more. This convention is known to have keynote speeches and gaming-related performances catered to a broad entertainment audience.
  • GenCon: GenCon, or the Geneva Convention established by Dungeons & Dragons’ cofounder Gary Gygax, is among the oldest conventions in gaming. This convention focuses on both tabletop games, such as board games and RPGs, as well as computer games. Like other conferences, Gen Con has free-play areas, art shows, panels, and exhibit halls for fans and vendors.
  • E3: Electronic Entertainment Expo, more commonly known as E3, is the biggest convention devoted solely to gaming. Only industry professionals are allowed to attend this convention, which features displays and exhibitions on upcoming video games and video game tech. They provide opportunities for industry professionals to connect with other partners and gamers about new technologies and products in gaming.
  • San Diego Comic-Con International: Comic-Con draws thousands of attendees each summer thanks to its combination of celebrity signings, panels, cosplay, and gaming. It was even considered as one of the largest annual comic and pop culture festival in the world by Guinness World Records in 2013! From comic books to video games, the star-studded conference is the perfect place for all things fandom related.
Image Courtesy of Brian Hess from School of Game Development

Gaming conventions are the perfect place for people to get to know the entertainment industry and interact with like-minded others. At such events, they learn how games are created, promoted, and interacted with the general audience.

Game designers need to have strong knowledge in game development and programming and sometimes experience in animation, visual development, and illustration. In order to promote the game at conventions, marketers creatively utilize media to showcase product highlights to get the crowd excited for the launch.

If you’re interested in being part of the exciting industry, request information to learn more about our different onsite and online programs, and where you can get started. Once you’ve carefully thought about your options, apply to join Academy of Art University.


Header Image by Brian Hess